By this point in the semester, IOAPA students are likely familiar with the expectations of their above-level courses. Students may be feeling a little overwhelmed by a level of challenge they may never have experienced before. They may start to question their abilities, or they may be hesitant to submit projects or assignments until they’re sure there are no mistakes. These can be difficult issues to help students overcome, and it is hard to know how to best support students with these emotional struggles. Many experts have written on these topics, and below are some blog posts and resources to share or discuss with IOAPA students who are in need of non-academic supports.
For students who are expressing hesitation about continuing their coursework because it is challenging, this blog post from Byrdseed could spark a conversation about the benefits of challenge for our brains, just like for our muscles.
“Imposter syndrome” is a common challenge for bright students, especially when they’re being exposed to a new level of challenge for the first time. In fact, it’s so common that Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page has a whole section of blogs and books about the phenomenon. (I would especially recommend this article and this blog post.) Helping students learn to challenge these thoughts now will benefit them throughout their education and careers.
An additional challenge that arises among gifted students is perfectionism. The National Association for Gifted Children published this article that includes a distinction between healthy and unhealthy manifestations of perfectionism, as well as some tips for parents and teachers to help students manage it.
Growth mindset resources can also inform the ways in which teachers and parents change their own behavior to support students through these emotional challenges. For example, the praise students receive can influence their self-perceptions; when students consistently hear, “You’re so smart,” it can open the door for self-doubt and perfectionism. Mindset Kit offers an excellent brief lesson on using process-praise.
The challenge of IOAPA classes is incredibly beneficial for high ability students in many ways. It can also result in some new struggles for these students, especially when they’ve never encountered this type of challenge before. It is our hope that these resources will be useful in understanding and meeting students’ emotional needs.